Concept 2 Rower Model D Rowing Machine Review
With 100’s of different models available, the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine outshines them all!
The Concept2 Model D is ‘commercial grade’ and virtually indestructible!
It’s durable enough to be used in gyms and rowing training facilities, but priced low enough for individual home-use.
The Model D is the ideal full-body workout machine to put right in your home. Beginners and professionals alike swear by this rower and have even formed a cult-like following!
I’ve read hundreds of reviews from different sources and a vast majority of them gave this rower a five-star review! Plus, I’ve owned a Concept2 Model D Rower for many years and I agree 100% .
A few issues were hard to spot at first… until I created this ultimate Concept2 Model D review!
Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times/stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times. I hope you and your family are staying safe during these times.
Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead!)
1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
13. Overall Review
The Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine is an air-resistance rower.
Air resistance functions by pulling a handle and spinning a fan flywheel. As the flywheel spins, it must displace the air in front of it, which causes the resistance.
The faster you spin the flywheel, the more air the fan must displace, and the more resistance you will feel.
In other words, your resistance level is determined by how hard you row! The faster/ harder you row, the more resistance you will feel.
This is similar to how water resistance operates, but different from magnetic and hydraulic-piston rowers.
You can check out my full breakdown of resistance types here to learn more about each type.
You can also read my Air vs. Magnetic resistance article for a more detailed description of how air resistance works.
Air resistance rowers provide a smooth overall resistance and are the preferred resistance type among all athletes.
Olympic rowing teams use the Concept2 Model D or E for their off water training due to their accurate data recording and ability to closely mimic the resistance felt while rowing on water.
If that doesn’t convince you this is a great rowing machine, then I don’t know what will!
The Model D air resistance provides a rowing motion that is very similar to rowing on water and doesn’t have any lag throughout the rowing stroke.
Meaning, you will feel smooth, even resistance from the start of the stroke all the way to the finish!
As mentioned above, the resistance level is determined by your rowing intensity. The faster you row, the more intensity you feel.
This automatically adjusting resistance is know as ‘variable’ resistance.
It’s not like a treadmill where you set it to level 5 and you have to keep running at that speed until you change the setting. Similarly, it’s not like a magnetic rowing machine where you set the resistance to level 5 and no matter how fast or slow you row, you feel the same resistance.
The Concept2 Model D resistance allows you to row at your own intensity/pace and the resistance will adjust accordingly.
This ‘variable’ resistance is perfect for HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises because you can row fast or slow and the resistance adjusts to your speed without having to stop and change any settings. This is why you see Concept2 Rowing Machines in every Crossfit style gym.
Another great benefit of the Model D resistance is it’s virtually maintenance free and very easy to fix if there is a problem.
Although the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine is classified as ‘variable’ resistance, users can still adjust the “feel” of the rowing stroke with the damper setting.
While many people think this is the same as “adjustable” resistance levels, it is actually a little different.
Users can change the damper settings from level 1 to 10 (as seen above) The numbers don’t represent different resistance levels, they represent the amount of air going into the flywheel, which effects the “feel” of the rowing stroke.
Like gears on a bicycle, the different “gears” will give you a different feel when you’re rowing. The higher settings (6-10) give you the feeling of a slower, heavier boat, whereas the lower settings (1-5) give you the feeling of a sleeker, faster boat.
It really depends on your preference and it’s easy to figure out once you experiment with the different settings.
There are many YouTube videos and articles online that can explain this in more detail once you have your Concept2 Rower.
Like other air rowers, the Concept2 Model D noise level is a bit loud for some users.
You will hear a ‘whooshing’ noise every time you row, which is just the wind created inside the flywheel. You can listen to me row on my Concept2 Rower with and without a TV on.
Most users just listen to music or turn the TV volume up to drown out the noise. The Concept2 noise level should not be loud enough to disturb anyone in your house, unless you are in an apartment rowing at odd hours.
One other negative of air rowers, especially the Concept2 Model D, is the overall size. Air rowers are notoriously long which is great for tall users but they do require a large workout space.
Concept2 recommends a workout space of 9′ x 4′. There is more info on the dimensions below.
The resistance on the Concept2 Model D is one of the best on the market. It provides smooth, strong, variable resistance and has the ability to adjust a damper setting.
Seeing it is the chosen rowing machine by Olympic athletes, who can say anything bad about it?
As long as you have the space requirement and can handle the Concept2 noise level, you will love the resistance provided by the Model D Rower.
Here is a great video that shows the Concept2 Model D in action (actually a Model E but they are virtually identical and have the same resistance flywheel):
The Concept2 Model D comes standard with a PM5 (Performance Monitor 5) monitor which is the poster child for rowing machine monitors.
It’s really hard to believe that a fitness company made this mini-computer. It’s simple to use but is loaded with options.
Out of all the features on this rower, users rave about this one the most!
Fitness Data Tracking
The Concept2 Model D PM5 monitor is advertised as a ‘training partner’ and they aren’t joking!
It tracks distance, 500m split (speed), time, strokes per minute, calories, watts, and so much more. It can also calculate the averages of all these metrics.
You have plenty of options when it comes to your workout preferences:
- Immediately start rowing (as soon as the flywheel starts spinning the monitor will power up and provide data)
- Select one of five preset workouts
- Customize a workout routine
- Play a game and receive a brief rowing lesson with animation showing you proper technique.
The display is big and the data is easy to read, whether you’re at the starting (catch) or finish position. It’s also backlit so you can see the data in low light settings.
The Concept2 PM5 monitor shows you everything you need to know while rowing.
The top section provides total time, number of strokes per minute, distance achieved and 500m split time.
You can choose from five different graphic displays for the bottom section:
- All Data (shows additional data)
- Force Curve (shows a graph for how force varies between your legs, back, and arms during the driving motion of your row [it basically tells you if your rowing motion is smooth or not])
- Paceboat (shows graphic display of your boat against a pre-programmed boat; you can also set a previous workout of yours as the paceboat so you can race against yourself)
- Bar Chart (shows graphic display in a bar chart format of the total watts of power generated during each phase of the workout)
- Large Print (shows data with larger font)
- Click here to see the full breakdown on the Concept2 website.
Heart Rate Monitoring
In addition to the multiple display options, if you have a compatible chest strap and a heart rate attachment (around $50), your heart rate will be displayed on the monitor with the rest of your workout data!
The PM5 supports ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart for wireless heart rate monitoring. However, Concept does point out that “Bluetooth Smart” is a different technology than “Bluetooth”.
From what I could gather, they are technically the same thing. “Bluetooth” is a protocol used in more powerful technology with an enhanced data rate. “Bluetooth Smart” is used in devices for recording smaller, specific data like heart-rate and blood-glucose meters.
Just make sure your heart rate monitor is Bluetooth Smart compatible!
Tracking your heart rate gives you additional benefits like the ability to stay in target heart rate zones while exercising.
The PM5 monitor has programs that display a bar graph of your heart rate every 10 seconds while rowing and also stores heart rate data before and after workouts.
USB Drive & PC Connection
Another cool feature of the PM5 is the USB Drive. The USB Drive lets you save and store records of your workout data.
This comes in handy if you use more than one Concept2 Model D Rower because the drive will allow you to record your workouts on different machines.
For management and further analysis of your workout data you can transfer the data from your USB to Concept2’s online logbook called ‘Concept2 Utility’.
In addition to uploading your data, there are other third-party programs available that do even more while your Concept2 Model D is connected to your PC.
One particular program shows a graphical representation of what you look like rowing in a rowboat at the same rhythm and speed you’re currently rowing on the rowing machine.
There are so many different 3rd party features for the Concept2 PM5 monitor – this section barely scratches the surface. You can find a ton of information on the Concept2 website.
The PM5 Monitor looks and feels durable. The buttons feel like really tough rubber that can take a lot of abuse and even the lettering on the buttons look like they won’t fade away.
It is attached to an adjustable monitor arm so you can move it up or down. It automatically turns on when you start to row and is powered by 2D batteries.
One additional bonus is the Concept2 Model D comes with a power-generation feature that provides power to the monitor while you’re rowing, which helps preserve battery life.
PM5 Monitor Overall
Overall, the Concept2 Model D PM5 is an outstanding monitor that doesn’t receive any complaints. It is the best monitor on the market and it has an incredible amount of features.
If you are a data nut and love tracking progress, this is the rowing machine for you!
Here is a quick video that highlights some of the main features:
Concept2 Online Community
Although this isn’t part of the ‘Monitor/ Control Panel’, I had to mention this somewhere, so I’ll do it here.
A good percentage of users loved the Concept2 community (online forum) because it’s a great place to meet other rowers and to get tips on how to get the most out of your rowing machine.
The manufacturer is also great with supporting their community and motivating owners. They even offer prizes for hitting certain milestones with their rowers.
For example, Concept2 gives you an exclusive t-shirt for joining the “Million Meter Club” by rowing one million meters on their rower (time it takes to hit the milestone doesn’t matter). If that’s not enough, they give incentives to kids for rowing and give away a weekly prize to random rowers that log at least ten thousand meters in a week.
The Concept2 Rowers also have the most information online about technique and workouts that can be found on YouTube and various fitness websites.
Instagram is also packed with people uploading daily workouts and technique videos. It is one of my favorite places to communicate with other Concept2 owners.
All of these resources are helpful when you are looking to mix things up with a new workout, wanting to perfect your rowing technique, or need to understand a monitor function.
Given the higher cost of this Concept2 Model D Rower and the manufacturer’s solid reputation, you would expect this rowing machine to be extremely durable.
The good thing is your expectations would be right!
The Concept 2 Model D comes in a matte or black finish and is commercial grade. Meaning, it’s built to withstand the punishment of constant use at gyms and Crossfit centers.
So don’t worry about it breaking on you any time soon, no matter how hard you try to beat it up!
Nothing on the machine feels cheap (there are no cheap plastic parts). The base has steel rear legs, an aluminum front, and an aluminum I-beam monorail with a stainless-steel seat track.
Multiple users of varying strength levels have used this rower regularly for over 10 years and have mentioned it still performs like it did when they first bought the unit.
This speaks volumes on the Concept2 Model D’s durability and longevity. You will get stronger as you use it, so it’s important the machine is strong enough to handle the increase in workload it will receive.
Based on its design, you will hear common noises such as the rolling of the seat, the pulling of the handle, and the fan. However, you will not hear any creaking and other annoying noises most commonly found on cheaper rowing machines.
A very small percentage of users mentioned they encountered a few issues with their rower when they unboxed it.
- A few users mentioned having to adjust the “screen material” that separates the two halves of the flywheel cover.
- They all mentioned it was an extremely easy fix and it’s not a critical part of the rowing machine.
- Two users commented that the stainless steel jacket on the fan cowling wasn’t fitted correctly.
- They were able to fix the issue themselves and it doesn’t appear to be a major issue.
Literally, I found less than 5 negative comments (these comments were also within 4 or 5 star reviews) out of 1,000s of reviews!
Concept2 has an extremely supportive customer service staff, so I wouldn’t be concerned about encountering issues and not getting good help in a timely manner.
I called them on a few occasions to get some questions answered for this review and they were extremely helpful. A few users even commented how quickly they received calls/ e-mails from them!
If you think you can break this rower, then check out the World’s Strongest Man trying to do so:
Concept2 Noise Level Continued
I know I mentioned this earlier but it is such an important issue to some users that I wanted to highlight it again.
The noise level of the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine is what you would expect from any air-resistance rower.
The harder you row, the louder the fan gets. However, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
A good number of users actually like when the noise is “loud” because it’s a sign they’re working out hard and it’s motivating!
You can read my noise level article here to actually hear me rowing my Model D with the TV on & off.
Just know that 99.9% of users have no issue with the noise level on the Concept2 Model D.
I didn’t find many reviews complaining about any quality issues, so that’s a testament to the solid build quality of the Concept2 Model D Rower.
Many people even claim the Concept2 Rowers have the best build quality of any rowing machine. Being backed by a good warranty (mentioned below) also shows how Concept2 believes in the quality of their products.
Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times or stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times.
What good is an exercise machine built tough enough to withstand millions of meters of abuse, but it isn’t comfortable enough to get you there in the first place?
Luckily, you won’t have to worry about that issue (for the most part).
The rowing motion for this rower is smooth and provides an experience similar to rowing on water. That’s one of the main reasons professional rowers use it.
The seat glides effortlessly on the monorail and the chain that pulls the flywheel doesn’t snag. This leads to a smooth catch, drive, finish, and recovery motion.
The only maintenance to make sure your machine maintains its fluid functionality is to keep the chain lubricated and clean the monorail periodically.
These actions are extremely easy to do and there are instructions in the Model D manual to walk you through the process.
Check out this video to see some of the different Concept2 comfort features I talk about below (seat, handle, footrests).
The seat on the Model D is contoured and padded, making it comfortable for most users.
However, depending on your weight and average length of workout time, you may need to make some minor adjustments.
Several users who have logged a lot of meters mentioned how the seat gets harder over time. So expect some tweaking with your seat a few years down the road.
A few users fold a towel and place it over the seat for extra cushioning. Others have mentioned a removable seat pad has worked really well for them.
I wrote an article that highlights some of the best Concept2 seat pads here.
The handle is ergonomically designed and is covered with molded rubber grips. As far as the actual design of the handle (pulling of the handle hurts the wrist, etc.), no users have mentioned issues in this department.
A fair amount of users mentioned (including the manufacturer themselves) that new rowers could expect to get a few blisters on their hands during the first few weeks of use.
This is due to the handle being molded of rubber, which allows for a more efficient rowing stroke.
To help with the issue, I recommend wearing gloves to make the handle feel softer in your hands. See what gloves are the best in my rowing glove breakdown article.
I don’t think the handle is too hard, but if you aren’t used to gripping things on a regular basis you will have to give your hands a few weeks to adjust.
The footrests are flexible and have a unique design that allows the rower to get their “shins vertical” even if they don’t have flexible ankles.
You won’t encounter any issues with your feet slipping out while rowing either!
One user even commented that he believes the heel rests were made for barefoot rowers because it feels so comfortable when he rows without shoes!
Whether you row barefoot or with shoes, the footrests appear to be comfortable for either preference.
Here is a great video to breakdown the last two sections on ‘Build Quality’ and ‘Comfort’ of the Concept2 Model D rower:
The Model D Rowing Machine has a large footprint when in use, but the size is basically cut in half when it’s taken apart for storage.
To save floor space, all you have to do is separate the monorail and the flywheel portion of the rower. Then rest the flywheel portion of the rower on its “head” and make the monorail section “stand up”.
It’s extremely easy to do and I’m honestly surprised that something so durable and big can be put away in a matter of seconds!
Users commented the process could take between 10-20 seconds to pull-apart and another 10-20 seconds to put back together.
One user says when in “storage mode” the rower is equivalent to half the size of a standard refrigerator.
Stored Dimensions (L x W x H): 25.0″ x 33.0″ x 54.0″
You can also store the Concept2 Model D Rower upright if you have a tall enough ceiling. Many gyms store their Concepts Rowers this way because it is fast and saves a ton of space.
The Concept2 Rower has two caster wheels on the front end of the unit. Since the rower weighs less than 60 pounds it’s not that difficult to move around if needed.
The Concept2 storage feature is an excellent benefit, especially for a rower with this size footprint.
Per the instruction manual, the weight capacity for the unit is 500 pounds.
Many users well over 300 pounds have used this rowing machine with no problem and still felt the rower was strong and sturdy.
Some rowing machines are not fit for shorter users, so I decided to give Concept2 a call to make sure there were no height limitations.
Each representative I spoke to said they never heard of any size restrictions for shorter people and mentioned they know children who use the machines regularly.
For taller users, it’s difficult to determine how tall is “too tall” for the rower because the key issue is leg inseam length and not overall height.
According to Concept2, the monorail length is 54.0″ (137cm) and can fit an inseam length up to 38.0″.
A few users that are 6’8″ and 6’9″ were able to use the machine with no issues and claim they had a couple of inches to spare on the monorail.
In addition, to further ease your concerns (if there are any), Concept2 offers an add-on that extends the monorail by another 5.0″ for an additional cost of ~$250.
So unless you’re literally 9.0′ tall, this rower will work just fine!
- In-Use (L x W x H):
- 96.0″ x 24.0″ x 14.0″
- 244cm x 61cm x 36cm
- Seat Height:
- Stored Dimensions (L x W x H):
- 25.0″ x 33.0″ x 54.0″
- Machine Weight:
- 57 Pounds [26 kg]
- Space Recommended for Use (L x W):
- 9.0′ x 4.0′
Just remember the Concept2 rower length is 96.0″ but you will need extra room for when you lean backwards during your stroke (unless you are short!).
The Concept2 dimensions are fairly large so just make sure you have adequate room to row comfortably!
The Concept Model D Rower is easy to assemble and only requires eight screws and washers. Everything can be put together with the included wrench.
Not one user mentioned they had a difficult time assembling the Concept2 Model D. Even people with no prior assembling experience were able to put this rower together!
The instructions are extremely easy to follow and most users are able to put the rowing machine together in 10-25 minutes.
When I got my Concept2 Rower I couldn’t believe how fast I put it together. I actually went over every step twice because I thought I was missing something.
Don’t believe me!?
Watch this video and see a man put together the rower in under 3 minutes. You can bookmark this page to refer back to after you receive your rower.
Pros and Cons
- The Concept2 Model D is made by one of the most respected brands in the rowing industry.
- It’s solidly built for commercial-use and requires a minimal amount of maintenance to keep it running smoothly for years.
- Its reputation for being a solid rowing machine allows it to hold its value very well. You can resell it on Craigslist for only a small percent less than the list price.
- The rowing motion is very fluid and fits almost any user size.
- The included PM5 monitor is one of the best workout monitors on the market!
- It’s easy to assemble and takes seconds to store away.
- Concept2 has a dedicated online community. Easy to find workout tutorials and instructions.
- Its popularity allows for easy finding of spare parts and service companies.
- The manufacturer provides a great warranty.
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee (see warranty for full details)
- Best overall rowing machine on the market.
- The unit is approximately 8 feet long so a lot of space is required to use this rower.
- The seat can be uncomfortable for some people and it gets harder after years of use.
- The handle can be a little rough on the hands.
- The fan can be too noisy for some people. It will get louder the harder/faster your row.
When checking consumer reviews of the Concept2 Model D, an extremely high percent of consumers gave it a 5-star rating. Reasons include the solid build quality, realistic resistance, smooth rowing motion, and the top of the line performance monitor.
Users rave about the second-to-none customer service and comment on how much they enjoy being involved in the Concept2 community. The rowing community gives rowing tips, sponsor’s contests, and gives away free awards for hitting various rowing milestones.
It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t like the Concept 2 Model D and if you find that rare person – they are probably mad they don’t own one yet!
All jokes aside, this is one rowing machine that practically everyone loves!
Read the full Concept2 Model D Review & Comments here.
Average Rating: 4.9
- Frame: 5-Year Limited Warranty
- All parts : 2-Year Limited Warranty
- Warranty is transferable to new owner if you choose to sell or give away your rower.
- The effective start date is date of purchase.
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
- Unsatisfied customers can simply pay to ship it back and their money will be refunded.
- Double check with the retailer that this option is available.
- Concept2 states, “this offer applies to factory direct sales to our customers in US and Canada only.”
Concept2 Model D Price
The price for the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 monitor is very reasonable and even rated as the #1 rowing machine – it is not priced the highest.
Earlier, I talked about (in great detail) how durable the rower is and how it will last you a lifetime. Adding to that, Concept2 Rowers have an extremely high resale value so if you decide to sell in a few years, you will have no problem recouping a good chunk of your original investment.
The price of the Model D doesn’t change much, whether you go to Amazon or other popular retailers. However, a lot of users purchased the rower through Amazon and mentioned the shipping and customer service were superb. They also offer free shipping on qualified orders, a great return policy, and act as a layer of protection between the seller and buyer.
These are important variables you want to consider when you purchase a large item like a rowing machine online. (When comparing prices, always make sure to check the final “checkout price” as some retailers list at a lower price but charge for shipping)
Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times or stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times.
Concept 2 Rower Model D Review – Final Thoughts
After reviewing the Concept2 Model D, I confirm that it’s perfect for people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. Many owners have used this machine for over a decade and it’s still going strong!
The bottom line – I highly recommend this rowing machine!
You will not be disappointed with this rower, check out the number of Concept2 Model D 5-star reviews here.
The Concept2 Model D will last you a lifetime, it has the best performance monitor, an extremely high resale value, and gives you a superb full-body workout!
If you are still unsure about what rowing machine to buy then ask me to select one for you! That’s right, just visit my Personal Rowing Machine Concierge Service and I will select which model is best for you.
I hope you enjoyed my Concept2 Model D review! If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below.
This rowing machine has been a GODSEND for me! I bought it over 6 years ago AND IT STILL functions like it’s brand new. The one thing people harp on about this machine is its noise but it isn’t bad at all. I can watch television with the volume turned up just a tad above “normal” while rowing. Plus I really like the air that blows when I’m working out, it cools me down! This is the best rowing machine I’ve ever used bar none. Really good review and you hit the nail on the head with many points. Keep up the good work and hail the Concept2 Model D!
Thanks – I appreciate the complement! The Model D is a wonderful rower; it provides the best bang for your buck and it’s tough as nails (as you can tell since you have had it for 6 years without a hitch). The noise does not bother me at all and after a while you don’t even notice it. I actually like when it gets louder when I row with more intensity because when the noise level drops, it tells me I need to pick the pace back up!!! One of my favorite features is the PM3 monitor, I absolutely love racing against myself from previous workouts. Thanks for stopping by, Landon!
I have over five million meters on my Model D in just about sixteen months. This machine has contributed to my improved health. As far as noise is concerned, I use inexpensive wireless headphones. This is an optimal solution, as my wife watches television in the next room with no interruption. The Model D is an amazing machine. My goal with it is to row forty million meters, the approximate circumference of the Earth.
That is an ASTONISHING accomplishment and you were able to row > five million meters in ONLY sixteen months?
WOW!!! Thank you for sharing that with the community. You’re a “beast” (I mean that in a very good way, of course).
Good tip on the wireless headphones to discourage noise on the rower and I agree, the Model D is an amazing rowing machine.
Thanks again for sharing your experience with the Model D and at the rate you’re going, you will have no problem hitting that forty million meter mark in the near future!
Thanks for your kind words, my wife was impressed! As I age, I am now fifty four years of age, I seek sustainable exercise. Rowing is best for this, and I know from experience that no rower is as good as Concept 2. As for my goal, I hope to finish before my sixty fifth birthday.
Like all machines when new are reliable, but after a number of years use something will inevitably require replacing e.g. The main power cord! There was no mention in this spec sheet as to the expected availability of spare parts ( that do wear out) being accessible. This is critical to me when making decisions on purchasing products.
In addition to personally knowing a lot of people that have owned a Model D for several years, I have read a ton and spoken to several other owners online and they never have issues with finding replacement parts. To be honest, they rarely replace anything other than the seats, handles; parts that are very easy to replace. The Model D is bulletproof – it will outlast you to be honest, buy it with confidence!
Thanks fors stopping Glyn! Edwin
Good article, thanks.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Palmer!
My husband is wanting to get a rowing machine and we were told that you can connect the Concept2 machines to a laptop while you are rowing and row live against someone else. Is this true? Nothing is mentioned in the reviews. This is the main thing he is wanting from whatever rower he gets. Thank you for your time.
Yes, the Concept2’s fitness monitor allows you to race other Concept2 owners in the same area via a wired connection or ‘wireless’ online. The newest fitness monitor (fitness monitors come with all Concept2 devices) for the Concept2’s is a PM5 (that’s the model number) and here’s an article taken directly from the Concept2’s website that explains how racing other Concept2 owners works: http://www.concept2.com/service/monitors/pm5/how-to-use/racing-pm3s-or-mix-pm3s-pm4s-and-pm5s
Here’s a link to the Concept2 Model D with PM5 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NH9WEUA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00NH9WEUA&linkCode=as2&tag=drewmcculloug-20
Here’s a link to the Concept2 Model E with PM5 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NH9WEXM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00NH9WEXM&linkCode=as2&tag=drewmcculloug-20
The main difference between the Model D and Model E is the seat height – the Model E has a higher seat height which caters to people with a bad back or other injuries that make it difficult to sit (it has the same seat height as a standard chair). If your husband doesn't have any issues with his back, I would go for the Model D – it's a few hundred dollars cheaper and it's just as solid as the Model E.
Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. Let me know if you have any other questions. Edwin
Do you have to have the PM5 to get online and if you have the PM3 can you upgrade it to the PM5?
Sorry for the late response! I have sent you an email with the information you requested.
I hope this helps and don’t hesitate to ask me anything else.
I am in a wheelchair and have recently been in rehab at Stoke Mandeville rehab unit. We all used the Concept rower they had there by removing the seat and beam unit and rowing from the wheelchair. Can you confirm if the rower head can be used independent from the beam?
I meant to add can the rowing head bemused on it’s own on all of the models?
Most rowers that are able to disconnect the beam from the rower head can be used from a wheelchair. It would be best to avoid the hydraulic piston rowers and stick with the air or magnetic. The concept rowers are known to be a favorite for adaptive rowing and even have a page on their site about it (http://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/adaptive-rowing). The Concept2 Model E and D would be best and I’m not sure if the Dynamic would work due to the flywheel being located next to the rower.
If you are concerned about price, two good options would be the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 or the Stamina Air Rower
If you send me more of the specifics of what you are looking for I can recommend a machine that can be used from a wheelchair.
Best of luck and thanks for checking in!
Good review. My question is: what about the noise my downstairs neighbors might hear? I live in a condo and have a “picky” neighbor right under me. How will the Concept2 do?
Thanks for the compliment! This question has come up a few times on forums and people have been able to significantly reduce the noise of the machine using rubber mats. A 1″ interlocking mat like this would help reduce noise- Interlocking Mats. A TV can easily be heard over the flywheel noise so I’m assuming if your neighbor can’t hear your TV they won’t be able to hear the rower.
If you don’t have very thin floors then I wouldn’t be concerned. I know the Concept2 is very hard to pass up but if you feel they are going to complain, then have a looked into magnetic or water rowers? If not check out my section on Comparing Rowing Machines
Thanks for checking in and let me know if you need anything else or more help on deciding!
Thanks for the rapid response! I am leaning to a Water Rower because it is so quiet. A local store in Charleston has one on the floor. With a pad my neighbors should never hear a thing! I’ve even managed to get my wife to agree to it. I hope to have it delivered tomorrow. Thanks for the knowledge!
Awesome Patrick! Glad I could help and let me know how the pad works out so I have even more proof that it eliminates noise.
Every gym I have used in my home town in the UK has these rowers or the model C. Your review justifies the experience I have had using both models. I will be buying a model D to save on travel time to and from the gym.
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed and agreed with my reviews of the Concept2 Models. I try to have the most in-depth, honest reviews on the internet. Whenever I meet people who say they don’t have the time or money to go to a gym I tell them a rowing machine will solve both problems!
Good luck on your new rower and thanks for the comment!
In my continuing pursuit of 40 miliion meters, yesterday I surpassed the 14 million meter mark. I started in April of 2012, and my Concept 2 Model D works and looks as if new.The machine has required only monthly upkeep. I give it 3 drops of oil and clean it.
Glad to hear you are still continuing your voyage of 40 million meters (the circumference of the earth at the equator!!). I wish you the best of luck to complete it by your time goal :) .
As for everyone else reading this, I hope this serves as a testament for how well a Concept2 Model D is built. After 14 million meters Steve has had no issues and has done almost no maintenance!
Steve, you are a true warrior and thanks for the inspiration!!
Thanks Edwin and a Happy New Year to you.
Excellent review !!! I want to buy a used Concept 2 rower. There is one advertised locally which is owned by a Gym and has done 4000kms. It is PM3 model D.I want to know if 4000 kms is too much use or is it acceptable. I want to buy it for my personal use only. Also what do you think is a fair price for this? Will 33% ie 1/3rd of the current model PM5 be a fair price to pay for this? I
have no experience at all of buying fitness equipment and therefore have absolutely no idea about how much should I pay. Please advise.
I’m glad you enjoyed the review! The Concept2 Rowers will last extremely long time so I wouldn’t worry about lifetime meters. Just make sure it was properly maintained and everything is working.
I would go lower than 1/3. The Rower is fairly old and has an old monitor. What is the current price of the listed rower?
Go there with $300-$400 (USD) cash and see if you can get them to bite on a very low offer. It’s a negotiation so start low and feel them out.
I wouldn’t pay more than $500 (USD) for a Concept2 PM3.
I bought a Concept2 model E, and need recommendation about a heart rate monitor that work with this model
The Concept2 recommended HRM is the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker.
You can also use it with an app on your phone for other fitness activities.
Great review Edwin! One question I have: If my wife and I both use the same rower (Concept 2D PM5), how easy is it to keep track of our workouts separately? What do we have to do to “switch” from one rower to a different person?
It’s super easy! Just have a USB flash drive for each user and insert it into the monitor when you are using. This will prompt the new user screen and you can save all your workouts and data on the flash drive. You can buy a flash drive for about $5.
I have an old C model Concept 2 but the monitor is missing. The PM2 did everything I needed it to and I’m not interested in all the bells and whistles of the PM5, esp. at $185. I can’t even find a used PM2 so am I out of luck? I found a Xebex 2.0 monitor for $95 that looks like it does everything I need but I’m wondering if it will work an a Concept 2?
I’m not sure if a Xebex monitor will work on a C2 or how to even determine if it will work without actually trying it. I would keep search for used C2 monitors. It’s the only way you can guarantee it will work properly.
I know the concept2 from my former crossfit box and it worked very well for me. As I moved to another city, where no crossfit box is available I want to build a garage gym in my house. I consider to buy the concept2 rowing machine (the price is just at my upper limit), but for space reasons (and because I am only 170 cm tall) I am looking for a smaller model which is very close to the concept2 regarding other specs. Do you have a recommendation for me? The model should be available in germany.
I also thought about buying a rower with induction (eddy current) type resistance (if I understand it correctly this would give me a speed dependent resistance just like in the case of an air rower but much quieter). However I never tried such a rower up to now.
It would be hard to find a comparable rower to the Concept2 that cost less. Some options are the Xebex Rower or the Stamina X (low cost and not very similar to the C2). I’m also not sure if they are available in Germany.
I have an article about air vs magnetic rowers here.
They are very different resistance types and magnetic rowers would not be “variable” resistance like an air rower. The resistance is only adjustable by setting the level and not how fast you row.
Thanks for your response. The price might be the same (as I said it’s just my upper limit). The point is, if there is a shorter alternative out there.
I just found this model: https://www.cardiostrong.com/cardiostrong-rowing-machine-rx50-cst-rx50-2 do you know this? The Rx50 is smaller than the concept2. But I am not sure of how large the difference is if you are used to the concept2.
I am not familiar with any of the German brands. This is an air/magnetic rower though, so the resistance will feel a bit different.
I think your best bet would be to try some out in person to make sure you like the feel of the rower. My concern is that many people who are familiar with the C2 and then use another resistance type or lower cost model, end up not liking their purchase because the rowing stroke does not feel the same.
Thank you for your review. So very helpful. My husband and I want to purchase one piece of equipment for our home. We are debating between a treadmill and a rower. I love the rower and I believe that I can get my husband to switch from a TM to a rower. He is 6’4” and I am 5’4”. We are in our 60s. With aging and being that this is a lifetime purchase, do you recommend a model D or a model E. We have plenty of room for the rower. Thank you.
I would 100% recommend the rowing machine over a treadmill ;) but of course that’s a biased opinion.
The major difference between the Model D and E is going to be the seat height. If you feel you may have difficulties getting on and off the rower, then I recommend the Model E.
I have a full comparison of the Model D & E Rowers here.
That should give you enough info to choose between the two.
Though it has taken longer than I thought it might, I am halfway to 40 million meters finally. I cannot lament the amount of time delay, for my life is in a far better place than it has been. With respect to C2 rowing things have taken a turn for the better also. You see, in addition to the machine I already own, I will soon be living in a 55+ community that has two Model D. So, the next twenty million meters ought to go even smoother. I cannot wait to get started on the next twenty million meters!
I am about to buy my first rower. I have looked at and tried water, air, and combo-magnetic rowers (including C2 Model D).
So far, my order of preference by type is Combo-magnetic, water, air. The combo and water just seemed to give a more consistent resistance.
The main reason I didn’t like air only rowers I tried was because of the weird, inconsistent pull resistance. This happened on *every* air-only rower I tried, including the C2D:
I get on the machine, strap in, and then extend my legs for the first pull. Feels great! Then I slide forward to restart. I then begin the next pull, and it feels like MUSH! Almost no resistance at all. Slide forward, repeat. Then the third pull gets more resistance, etc, etc. Some pulls full resistance, some middle, some virtually none.
It seemed like the only way I could get consistent pull resistance was to pause for a 3 or 4 seconds after I slide forward before I started the next pull. I had to give the paddle wheel time to slow down before I started the next pull.
I found the unpredictable resistance to be very distracting and unpleasant.
Was I using the machine incorrectly?
What do I need to do to get consistent pull resistance on an air-only rower?
I would say you must have been using the machine incorrectly. Air rower, specifically the Concept2 Rowers, are the most common rowing machines seen in training facilities for Olympic rowers, collegiate rowers, and Crossfit. There is no way they would make the Concept2 their go-to rower if there was that big of a lag in the stroke. I also use a Concept2 and don’t notice that big of a lag.
Here is a video of the World’s Strongest Man using a Concept2 and there is not a 3-4 second delay in resistance: https://youtu.be/SVl0Zt-kZys
I would check out some other Concept2 technique videos on Youtube as well, but if you don’t like air resistance then as you mentioned, water and combination rowers are great as well!
I’ve been using a water rower at my trainers. I’ve been searching for one for my house. I ordered my model D from Amazon today. It arrives Friday. I read your review and discussed it with my trainer. I look forward to using it for many years.
Great to hear Mark! The Concept2 is such a great rowing machine!
Thanks for your reviews and insights! I’m a complete beginner, and the information is incredibly helpful in selecting a rowing machine.
It seems clear from your reviews that the Concept2 machines are the gold standard in terms of quality and durability. For someone who’s just starting out and not willing to invest $1K though, would you recommend a new non-Concept2 machine (such as the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515), or an older used Concept2 Model C?
I would first read my comparison article of air vs magnetic rowers by clicking here. The SF-RW5515 is a magnetic rower and the Concept2 is an air rower.
It would really depend on the cost of the Model C. If the used Model C was going to cost $300-$400, then I would probably choose the Stamina Air Rower 1399, Stamina X Air Rower, or Sunny Health SF-RW5515 if you want magnetic.
The Stamina X is a great model if you are looking to save some money and test out whether you want to invest in a higher cost rowing machine down the road.
Now well past half way on my Imaginary Voyage of indoor rowing, my C2 still performs as if new. I have more than seven years of using this machine and it shows no sign of faltering. My goal is unchanged, 40 million meters rowed by my 65th Birthday, one imaginary voyage around the Equator.
Thanks for the update!! Glad to hear things are still going well
Thanks for a great discussion, along with the other one comparing air and magnetic resistance. I have been shopping and learning and comparing for a couple of days, and got thoroughly confused. Now, I THINK, I get it. And I am going to buy the Concept 2 comfortable in my own mind that, although it is not the least expensive, it is the right way to go.
I really appreciate the thoughtfulness, completeness, and support of our articles.
Hi Bob – thank you for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed my articles.
I’m 100% confident that you will love the Concept2!
I am pleased to report that well past halfway on my indoor rowing voyage, my 2012 Model D still looks and functions as if new. Used daily, this machine has never required parts replacement. In these times of Social Distancing the ability to row at home but be connected to the Concept 2 online community is even more valuable.
Great update Steve! Glad everyone in the C2 community is still staying connected during these times!
Thanks, Edwin for the comprehensive review. It seems to be a much better deal than the NordicTrack RW200, which is what I was considering. (It’s unfortunate that they’re back-ordered at the moment, but am willing to wait). I’m looking to lose the little belly fat I have remaining and hopefully build a bit more muscle mass in the process. My question is about using the PM5. Can you create and save custom workouts on the monitor, rather than have to set it up each time? The online pdf manual doesn’t seem to be detailed enough to answer my question.
Again, thank you!
Hi Richard – thanks for reaching out! I think you can but what type of workout are you looking to save? I can test it on my monitor.
You can also check out the C2 service website. Read all of the descriptions on the right hand side and they may have what you are looking for: https://www.concept2.com/service/monitors/pm5/how-to-use/saving-workouts-to-performance-monitor
Appreciate the reply. I was looking to see if a user-defined interval workout could be saved for future use and after reviewing the link you provided, apparently it can as a “Favorite”.
Thank you again for your help!
Great reviews on your website. I’m a beginner and want to invest in a rower for home (like so many others right now). Was looking at the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus (which Costco sells in Canada and it just came back in stock) but as I did more research it’s pretty obvious that the Concept 2 is a real winner. It costs about 3x the Fitness Reality here and it’s not even available right now. Price is not an issue, so wondering if you would advise holding out for the Concept 2 (I am on the wait list and was told approx. September) or grabbing the Fitness Reality. As a beginner am I getting ahead of myself with the Concept 2 or is it a good investment in any case? I don’t want to be in a position in a year or two where I regret not springing for the Concept 2.
Thank you for your insight!
Hi Jenny- thanks for reaching out! The Concept2 is definitely a much better rower than the Fitness Reality so if you are planning to make rowing a part of your daily routine it is definitely worth the wait. The only issue is they have been sold out for a while so I’m not sure how accurate their “in-stock” date is but if you are on a waitlist then maybe it’s fairly accurate. I would personally wait if I could get one in September.
The other option is to buy the Fitness Reality Rower from Costco and if you feel like a higher quality rower would suit you better then you could always return it.
Firstly great article, very informative. I have rowed from time to time in various gyms. I have set up a home gym now for long term use and the rowing machine is the only cardio machine I really want to add to it. The concept2 d, is a great rower and its perfect for what I want, if they ever come back into stock mind.
1. With the space requirement of 9ft, I might have to have it near a wall(the fan part). Would this be a big issue?
2. With this rower being around for the best part of 20 years, what are the main improvements, it seems its the monitors and connectivity that are the main changes over the years, while the rower itself is the same as it always was?
Hi John – thanks for reaching out!
1) I don’t see any issues with this. It brings in air from the sides so it will be fine.
2) The monitor has improved the most and is a lot more accurate – with a few additional features. The components are also a bit better which has significantly reduced the noise. Older C2s where much louder and the rowing stroke didn’t feel as smooth.
Hope that helps answer your questions!
Thanks Edwin, appreciate the help and answers. Def will be picking one up if I can source it, but everywhere is sold out.
I just bought a Concept2 (Thanks to your reviews). I was looking for an erg since August and added myself on waitlist just like that, and luckily it was available to order. I have used ergs at gym for quick cardio sessions. Now, I would like to learn some technical aspects and use it for workout. Do you know or recommend someone who can give feedback on my form if I send a video ? I know this is a slightly off-topic, but I don’t know where else to start asking questions.
Hey Harry – great to hear you got a rower! I would start looking up some technique videos on YouTube and start asking there. That would be my best guess on where to look for some coaching
As we approach the last 80 or so days of this Concept 2 rowing season, and I am well past half way in my ongoing quest to reach 40 million meters, I have several observations about my 2012 model D. It still looks and performs as if new. What is truly remarkable about this machine is how versatile it is. My career has had a revival and I work more now than in previous years. Still, 7000 meters per workout and both exercise and stress reduction needs are met. This is quite beneficial in these times, the C2 is just an amazing rowing machine. Still, this many years later, now parts failures to report.
My wife and son are kind of convinced that they need that “Peleton” like experience. With the classes and the measuring against others that Peleton offers. It feels like the C2 is the end all be all for rock solid performance that lasts forever. And we can easily find one locally for $700 or so.
My son stayed with some friends for a couple of months, and it was the only time he was motivated to jump on the machine daily with the Peleton. Given that worked for him, is there something equivalent with the C2 or is there a machine like the Hydrow Row or Nordic Track ones that you might recommend?
Thanks in advance
Hi Marcos – there are a lot of 3rd party apps that work with the Concept2 so that might be your best option if you don’t want the NordicTrack or Hydrow machines. There’s a company called CityRow that has an app similar to Hydrow and NordicTrack that can sync with the PM5 monitor. Check out my review of it here.
I also have an article about different rowing machine apps. There are new apps coming out every day as well!
There isn’t going to be a rower similar to the C2 that has a built-in app so I understand it’s a tough decision! At the end of the day, the best rower is going to be the one that gets used the most!
Hard to believe, but my 2012 Model D will soon be 10 years old. As I progress on my indoor rowing voyage of 40 million meters, I am amazed at just how durable this machine truly is. It works and looks as if new. I must wonder if in the remaining distance of this voyage, if I will ever give it anything more than routine care? Amazing!
Great review on the Concept2; and just about coming up to my first year’s anniversary of owning one, thought I would throw in a couple of comments!
1. As just about every says – rock solid machine – it just goes on and on!
2. When I started, I couldn’t row 1,500m before stopping, now I do 15Km without thinking about it.. It is just so good for your fitness
3. The seat could be better. Over 40 minutes and I certainly get a “numb bum”. Tried a seat cushion and it does help, but is not perfect. After rowing a couple of half marathons, I have found that you just have to grin and bear it for the last 30 minutes or so.
4. The Concept2 online Logbook is brilliant. Looking at how others are doing around the world is such a great way to keep yourself motivated.
5. The Bluetooth sync to your phone is brilliant, such an easy way to upload your sessions and gives you the chance to display other factors when you are rowing – or maybe I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to content? Even better – you don’t need to use a USB stick – the sessions can be uploaded straight away.
Not sure why you don’t recommend this as an option, it is soo cool!
6. The Concept2 challenges online are also a great way to keep motivated – check them out. They are regular throughout the year – again a real plus in my book.
I hope this offers some benefit to newbie rowers.
Thank you for the feedback, Alex! I appreciate it!
Ten years on, my 2012 Model D still performs and looks as if new. Still in daily use, it is the anchor of my fitness. I am still working to complete my goal of rowing 40,000,000 meters, the circumference of Earth at the Equator. So, now it is known as RowErg, and I believe is no longer available in light brown. No matter, the machine and I just keep on keeping on. Oh, the only part I have replaced was the PM3. My wife upgraded me to PM5 several years ago. I will update as my voyage continues, but I am inclined to believe this machine will outlive me.